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Found in the sun-drenched area of Orange County, California, the city of Irvine typically draws travelers here due to its outdoor recreation opportunities and the University of California Irvine campus. While you’re in Irvine, you’ll definitely want to embrace the outdoor spaces here, however, dining, shopping and other entertainment options are also found in the city as well. Enjoy your time in this area of California when you experience these best things to do in Irvine.
One of the top places to embrace the nice weather in Irvine is at Orange County Great Park. This 1,300-acre park offers plenty of amenities, including a sports complex, an ice rink, and an art gallery. A unique feature to Great Park is the Great Park Balloon, where visitors can float 400 feet above the park to catch incredible views of Irvine and the surrounding mountains. Events are regularly hosted here, from the farmers market to seasonal festivals.
A great place to bike and hike in Irvine is at William R. Mason Regional Park. Commonly referred to as simply “Mason Park” by locals, this regional park offers a wilderness escape for those in Irvine. If you’re looking for a more rugged experience, visit the east side of the park where you’ll find a bike trail that traverses the area’s hilly terrain. For kid play places and walking paths, explore the west side of the park.
Take a farm tour at Tanaka Farms the next time you want to get out of the cityscape. Tanaka Farms is a 30-acre, working farm that also hosts farm tours to the public. Strawberry tours are offered in the spring months, while corn tours are hosted during the summer months. The fall season is one of the most popular times to visit the farm however, as pumpkin picking and weekend harvest events draw a number of visitors.
Browse the unique plant collections and exhibits at the University of California Irvine Arboretum. The best time to visit the arboretum is during peak bloom, so attend a tour during this time to experience the full beauty of the plants here. Unique plant collections range from species from the Channel Islands and the Mojave Desert. Perfect for those on a budget, members of the public can enjoy the gardens with no entrance fee.
Irvine Spectrum Center is a great place to visit for date night or a day out shopping. The wide variety of dining and shopping options here are the main draw of this complex. However, the Irvine Spectrum Center also has kid-friendly attractions too like a Ferris wheel, a movie theater, arcade, and a carousel. Occasionally, visitors can catch live music acts and comedians as well. This outdoor mall is a popular hub for both daytime fun and nightlife options in Irvine.
For families visiting Irvine, Pretend City Children’s Museum is the perfect attraction to keep the kids entertained. This nonprofit museum features over 17 unique exhibits that will inspire little minds. Children can play in the kid-sized grocery store, construction site, post office, fire station or farm. The hands-on learning is truly what makes Pretend City a magical place for young visitors.
Wildlife lovers in Irvine should visit the IRWD San Joaquin March and Wildlife Sanctuary. It is remarkable to see a wildlife sanctuary actually thrive within the city limits. Birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts alike flock here to catch a glimpse of the animals, however, many people head to the San Joaquin March to simply enjoy the over 10 miles of hiking trails. Plenty of resident and migrant birds are found here, however big mammals like coyotes and bobcats are also known to live here as well.
Golfers visiting Irvine should play a round of golf at the most coveted golf course in the city, Oak Creek Golf Club. This stunning golf course, which was designed by none other than the renowned golf course architect Tom Fazio, is home to 18 holes. Full of interesting challenges and stunning scenery, the golf course at Oak Creek is a great way to spend a couple of hours enjoying the California weather in Irvine. There is no need to be a member of the club to play; as this golf course is open to the public daily. Aside from the stunning course, golfers regularly sight wildlife here too, like egrets, hawks and other native wildlife species.
A popular pastime for Irvine residents is biking. Therefore during your stay in Irvine, you’ll want to rent a bike and take advantage of the miles of paved biking trails. With over 50 miles of paved (off-street) biking trails in Irvine, you can experience the city at an enjoyable pace. Home to a number of bike rental places and even a bike club too, it’s easy to get into the cycling scene in Irvine.